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I grew up in a very Conservative Baptist Church. They were fundamental in their Christian doctrine and mixed into that doctrine many added “rules.” For example: One rule was that no guitars could be used in worship services because rock bands use guitars! They didn’t see the irony that rock bands also used organs. Another rule you’ve probably heard of is that no card playing was allowed. (Perhaps the reasoning was that the cards had demonic symbols or something). When our high school youth group would go to Denver for a YFC rally they kept the lights on in the bus even though we were good kids. These are just a few examples.

There was a big emphasis on behavior and outward appearance. Even though I’m sure it was preached, I don’t remember a big focus on God’s love for me. I actually tuned out most sermons because they were really boring.

I accepted Jesus as my Savior at age 6 because I wanted to go to heaven when I died. I tried to walk with Jesus only to learn later that I wasn’t developing a relationship with Him. I was just living in the Christian culture and thought I had that relationship with Jesus until I went to Bethel College and started doubting everything I had been taught about Him. I dropped out of college for other reasons after one semester and began adulthood feeling lost. It really didn’t help that I had been sexually abused by a camp counselor that everyone loved. I officially walked away from God a few years later when a close friend dumped me for a new friend.

After several years of trying to seek love, attention, and purpose, and not finding it, I turned back to God. It was such a relief. I was the prodigal daughter returning to her Father. I will tell that story another time. But being back in church brought back the legalistic baggage that I was raised in.

I started going to an Evangelical Free Church that wasn’t perfect but also didn’t have those silly man-made rules that weren’t in the Bible. Besides having childhood church baggage, I also had family baggage and wounds from my time away from God in which I made some really bad choices. My new church had a thriving single’s group, Bible Studies, and support groups that helped with different issues such as grief and loss. I really appreciated that they had a large single parent’s group that was nurturing and non-shaming. I wasn’t a single parent but it spoke to me that this church cared.

Thus began the untangling of what I was taught about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit that was mixed in with legalism. It was a slow process and I was so fortunate to find a Christian counselor who had also had a similar background. He also helped me separate God from people.

I thoroughly retested the truths I had been taught as a child. I started studying the Bible as a whole and learned to use scripture to prove scripture and not rely on man’s interpretation. I learned that in order to find personal freedom I needed to forgive those people—especially the Christian ones—that had deeply wounded me. Meanwhile, I was still testing every Christian doctrine. After all, if the Bereans in Acts 17:11 who were of noble character examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true, then I could too.

A lot of people who grow up in “fundamental” churches and maybe are wounded by them end up tossing the whole thing. They might become atheists, agnostics, or start to create their own version of Christianity. These new versions of Christianity usually do not include the Jesus of the Bible. They throw out the Jesus that has been given all authority by the Father (Matthew 28:18); who has supremacy over all creation (Colossians 1:15-20); who claimed to be the Messiah (John 4:25-26); who said that belief in Him is required to have eternal life (John3:36); who said that the only righteousness we can have is only through Him (Romans 3:22-26); and who has the power and authority to rescue us and reconcile us to God through His death and resurrection.

After 30 years of testing and scrutinizing the Bible and the “fundamental” doctrines of evangelical Christianity, I believe in Jesus’ sovereignty all the more and refuse to throw Him out with the legalism, creepy Christians, false teaching about Him, and my own wounds. I’m keeping the true Jesus, not the reinvented Jesus…a Jesus that does nothing for me because a reinvented Jesus stripped of His deity and power to forgive doesn’t care about me and can’t help me.

Excuse me while this Jesus (who loves me) and I go dump out the dirty bathwater.

In Steve Poos-Benson’s Christians Without Borders post in September 2013, Steve says, I’m grounded in the teachings of Jesus. The teachings from the scriptures are a north star for my heart. However, I refuse to be defined by the popular notion of Christianity. ‘Christian: Close minded, judgmental, anti GLBT, anti abortion, anti world religions, anti anything they think the Bible says is true, bible thumping, bull horn blaring, I might love you, but I hate your sin. I’ll pray that you’ll accept my Jesus, if not, you’re going to hell.’

This definition makes me gag.”

So which teachings of Jesus is he grounded in? Based on his sermons over the past few years it appears that he is only grounded in a few cherry-picked verses that fit his worldview. Here is a small sampling of some teachings of Jesus that he seems to have skipped over:

1) John 3:14-18—Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus and says:

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. For God so loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”

First, Steve teaches that Jesus is NOT the One and Only Son of God. He has taught that Jesus is just one of many sons or masters of God. He teaches that Krishna, Buddha and others are also masters and are equal with Jesus.

Second, he says that the people who pray for people to accept their Jesus, if not, you are going to hell makes him gag. This is one of Jesus’ teachings. The same Jesus that Steve says he is grounded in. John 3 says this, “Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”

I know, I know, John didn’t really write this book and neither did the other gospel writers because they were all illiterate, according to Steve. His only proof of this is that “most people were illiterate back then.” He also says that these books were written many years after Jesus’ death and they didn’t really remember the correct details and they added in their own biases based on the audiences they were writing to. If so, then all of the gospels should be thrown out. The Sermon on the Mount, loving your neighbor, everything. Throw it all out because it is all hogwash, except of course those verses that fit into your own personal worldview. The Bible is a buffet after all. Take a little of this, a lot of that, skip the salad bar and meat slicing station, and move ahead to the dessert table. Perhaps then we should throw out the writings of Plato, Hippocrates, and many other ancient writers whose writings we accept but are, in some cases a thousand years after they lived.

“It must be said that the amount of time between the original composition and the next surviving manuscript is far less for the New Testament than for any other work in Greek literature…Although there are certainly differences in many of the New Testament manuscripts, not one fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading.” (David Dockery, Foundations for Biblical Interpretation, 1994).

For example: Homer’s Iliad was written in  800 B.C. and the earliest copies were made in 400 B.C. The number of copies is 643.

Plato wrote his works in 400 B.C. and the earliest copies were made in A.D. 900. Only 7 copies were made.

Caesar wrote Gallic Wars in 100-44 B.C. and the earliest copies were made in A.D. 900.  Only 10 copies were made.

The New Testament was written in A.D. 50-100  and the earliest copies were made in A.D. 114-325. The number of copies is 5366.

2) John 4:25-26—Jesus is speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that the Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). When He comes, He will explain everything to us.’ ‘I am He,’ Jesus told her, ‘the One speaking to you.'”

Jesus claims to be the Messiah in Scripture. Steve has taught that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah.

John 5:38-40—Jesus is speaking to the Jews that are persecuting Him: “You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent.”

Does Steve misunderstand I Cor 2:14 when it says:  “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

The verse in John 5 states that a person that doesn’t believe in the One God sent (Jesus) doesn’t have the word living in him. Pastor Steve has made it very clear that he doesn’t need a savior; he doesn’t believe that Jesus is THE Son of God and that He is equal with God; he doesn’t believe that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead; and he believes that Jesus was just an illiterate, enlightened man (I don’t know how you can be illiterate AND enlightened, but whatever). John 8:23-24 says, “You are from below,” He told them, “I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

John 6:29 says, “Jesus replied, ‘This is the work of God—that you believe in the One He has sent.”

John 6:40 says, “For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

3) John 8:42-47—In this passage, Jesus asks the Jews “Who among you can convict me of sin? If I tell you the truth, why don’t you believe Me? The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.” Pastor Steve and Justin have tried to point out at times that both Jesus and God are not perfect and that they fail and even sin.

Beware of anyone who claims to be grounded in the teachings of Jesus but reject the ones that don’t fit in with their worldview.

I John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Pastor Steve has said multiple times that you shouldn’t believe everything he says. THAT is good advice.

Jesus said multiple times that He is the Son of God and that through Him you can be saved. If you don’t agree with that then throw out everything else He says because then He is a liar. Then call yourself a Buddhist or something else because Jesus ISN’T bigger than Christianity. He IS Christianity.

If you study the Bible as a whole and use scripture to prove scripture (not commentaries or books written by theologians), you would see that the Bible’s reliability is grounded in the fact that from cover to cover, it relentlessly, ruthlessly, points us to Jesus Christ. That from the Genesis to the Revelation, the Bible is unashamedly, Christian! I will write more about seeing Jesus Christ all through scripture in another post.

I Peter 2 refers to Jesus as the precious cornerstone for God’s spiritual house and that He was rejected by men. Verse 8 says “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” To combine other religions’ teachings about Jesus that actually contradict who Jesus says He is to no longer have Christianity but something completely different. And then you can no longer say you are grounded in Jesus’ teachings.

In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg–or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade making abortion on demand legal in this country. Many people, including myself, have been posting articles on facebook about the horrors of abortion and the impact it has had on our nation. As vital as the pro-life topic is on a political and scientific level, it is even more important to talk about how there is healing and forgiveness for having an abortion or being influential in someone’s abortion experience. I ought to know because I have experienced both.

I was 22 years old when I fell into sexual sin. I certainly did not seek it out as I was raised in the church and believed that pre-marital sex was wrong, which I still believe today. But, I was naive about men (especially those who didn’t care about the Biblical standard) and I really liked the attention Dave gave me.

I ended up getting pregnant, much to Dave’s dismay but abortion was the furthest thing from my mind. But things got complicated as I told people about it and without divulging details due to privacy concerns, I ended up making the decision to have an abortion at 6 weeks. Once the decision was made, I became numb and detached. I had a few people try and talk me out of it but I wouldn’t listen. What is sad to me is that today those people are pro-choice.

However, even with the numbness, I found the waiting room of the clinic to be very sad. All of those women at varying ages, some alone, some with family members, and some with their boyfriend or husband. I was there with a family member and Dave.

Everyone, including myself tries to pretend that it is no big deal and the clinic staff tries to reenforce that. I was warned briefly of some physical risks but was not warned of the emotional risks. The abortion industry tries to tell women that it isn’t a baby but a clump of tissue. But to be honest, I knew deep in my heart. I knew what I was doing. If most women who have had abortions were honest, they would probably say the same thing. But I don’t know that for sure. There is a level of denial that kicks in and is very powerful.

I felt numb for a long time after this tragic day. But deep down I felt worthless and guilty. This certainly wasn’t how I wanted my life to go. So, in this worthlessness and guilt, I continued on in my lifestyle. I was damaged in my heart of hearts.

It would be years later that I would start to deal with what I had done. Before I could start the healing process I would have to tell someone and actually use the “a” word. That was very difficult. A wonderful counselor helped me open up and then a group called “Conquerors” geared directly for post-abortive women helped me through the rest. I would go on to become a small group leader with them for four years. The stories I encountered of dozens of women were heartbreaking.

Here are some of the things I learned that helped me heal (in no particular order):

  • I was not the only one guilty in my abortion. I looked at everyone involved, even if they had a small role. Included in that group was the Supreme Court for legalizing abortion, my boyfriend, the clinic for any lies they might have told me, etc. We looked at it as a pie and divided it up into percentages of responsibility. Of course I had the biggest slice.
  • It was important to realize that what I had done was wrong. It is not natural for a mother to end the life of her unborn child. If you deny that it was wrong, then it short circuits the healing process.
  • Even though I was ultimately responsible for the abortion, I was allowed to grieve the loss of my child. Conquerors helped me humanize my child and go through the stages of grief as my denial started wearing off…much like Novocaine wearing off after dental surgery. Once it hit it became quite painful and allowing myself to grieve like any mother really helped me through that process.
  • It was okay to be angry at what had happened…at myself, at others involved in the whole ordeal, and at the politics surrounding this issue which first legalized abortion and then keeps women in denial by telling them that it is their right.
  • But the most important thing I learned was forgiveness. The anger that I was allowed to feel should not remain as it was only poisoning me. I needed to forgive everyone involved and mostly myself. Forgiveness is so misunderstood. It is not saying that what happened was okay or letting anyone off the hook. It is about letting go of bitterness which is like poison running through your veins. It is putting any appropriate vengeance in the hands of God.
  • I also needed to seek forgiveness from God. As a believer in Christ, I did not stand condemned before a holy God. Because of Christ’s shed blood for me and my faith in Him, I am righteous before God. But I had rebelled against Him for several years and basically believed that He hated me for what I had done. I needed to restore my walk with Him and unload my burden of grief, anger, anxiety and depression, and regret upon Him so that He could restore my inner being. It wasn’t an easy process but was very worth it.

Even though I am healed, I do have a scar on my heart. Abortion has life-long consequences and cannot be undone. Friends my age are having their first or second grandchild. Abortion is permanent.

I’m so thankful though for a God that heals and who cares about my heart. He cares about you too. If you have had an abortion or abortions, there is forgiveness, there is healing. Seek Him. Cry out to Him.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9

I would be more than happy to talk to anyone privately who needs to talk about this issue. No condemnation here. My beef is with the abortion industry, not the victims of it.

On Tuesday, Minnesota will vote on whether an amendment should be added to the constitution defining marriage as only being between and man and a woman. This amendment would potentially prevent the state legislature or an activist judge from allowing same-sex marriage in this state.

Obviously this is a very contentious issue and the ads on TV for both sides are really pouring it on. The “Vote NO” side is saying that allowing gays to marry is basically a biblical value, that we should treat gays as we would want to be treated ourselves. Other ads say that love is bigger than government and who are we to say that homosexuals cannot marry each other.

Well, who are we to say that they can’t? We aren’t the ones saying it. You see, man didn’t create the marriage relationship…God did. It is the foundation on which He created society, one family at a time.

Now, man in his sinful nature has done his best to destroy marriage, including Christians. But marriage between one man and one woman is God’s idea and His ideal.

No one has the right to redefine it. It isn’t our institution to redefine.

“Coming to the Lord, a living stone–rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God– you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a royal priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

For it is contained in Scripture: Look! I lay a stone in Zion, chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame!” Isaiah 28:16

“So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, the stone that the builders rejected [from Psalm 118:22]–this One has become the cornerstone, and a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over [from Isaiah 8:14]. They stumble because they disobey the message.” I Peter 2:7, 8

It was prophesied in the Old Testament that Jesus would be the cornerstone of His house but this stone would be a stumbling block for many. I see so many doing everything they can to find God without the Biblical Jesus. He is being rejected as prophesied.

As the winner of “The Voice” said last night, “It’s all about Jesus!” Yes, it is. Jesus said He would be hated. So, those who reinvent Jesus and strip Him of His supremacy and deity are stumbling over Him and rejecting Him. He is the cornerstone of God’s house.

What is the significance of the “cornerstone”? it is the chief foundation on which something is constructed or developed. Without Jesus as the cornerstone or foundation of your faith, your house will crumble.

Jesus has made it easy! So easy that men stumble right over it. Don’t be the part of prophecy of unbelief in the honored cornerstone.

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I love to go shopping. I love wandering through malls and Target and looking at cool stuff to buy. It’s cathartic to me for some reason. Unfortunately, that is what many people are doing these days with their faith in God.

It used to be that God was considered distant, mean, and strict. Now, believing in God has gotten cool. Why? Because seekers are putting together their own tenets of the faith–who is God, how do we have a relationship with God, and what difference does He make in our lives–and they are looking to other faiths to cobble together their own personal “truth.”

This is where our enemy, Satan, gets involved. For various reasons, people are rejecting the church, whether evangelical, protestant, or Catholic. Some of those reasons are valid in my opinion: spiritually abusive pastors, sexual scandals, extra-biblical teachings, and some just plain weird practices invented by man, to name a few. False teachers, including cult leaders, take advantage of these people who are hurting and confused. They maybe still want to believe in God but know they can’t do that church thing again.

So basically, the false teacher says to them, “let’s go shopping! God has a big wonderful mall for you to choose from.” He urges them to let go of their strict dogma and move forward to freedom and love. Well, that sounds kind of nice. What does that mean? Rev. False Teacher takes you to a “Divine” store where you can still have Jesus in your life but only as a model for enlightenment for you. In this store Jesus is not God, He is a god–a state He achieved by the way He lived His life. This is basically Buddhism dressed up with Christian terms to make it palatable for Westerners and people who come from Christian traditions. The false teacher cherry-picks some nice quotes by Jesus out of the Bible about loving your neighbor and helping the poor but fails to mention that Jesus claims to be God and that He is the only way to the Father.

Let’s move on to another store: “Avatars.” When Hinduism hit the shores of the West in the 60s, Jesus was considered an avatar, placing Him on the same level of Krishna, Rama, and other divine incarnations. Swamis and yoga masters considered the teachings of Christ, when followed properly, to be a legitimate pathway to the unified consciousness achieved in yoga. As Philip Goldberg states: “This was a Jesus I could live with: exalted in a way that befits a giant of history, but without the grandiose, cosmos-altering triumphalism that relegates non-believers to either irrelevance or damnation.” According to many Buddhists, Hindus, and false teachers within Christianity, Jesus is just one of many Sons of God.

While selecting this new Jesus, the false teacher keeps whispering in your ear that the Bible was written by men, not God; that Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead after being crucified, it was a vision and an “experience” by the distraught disciples; the God of the Bible is always changing and He wants you to be free and happy; to let go of the ancient teachings of God and Jesus; and hell and heaven only exist in this life. This frees you up to accept this new Jesus, stripped of all of that intolerant, unloving, and strict doctrine.

People are free to believe what they want, but the Jesus of the Bible doesn’t leave room for any of these beliefs. In John 1, Jesus was with God in the beginning, and is God…all things were created through Him…He didn’t become an enlightened human being during His life on earth.

John 1:14 says “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father [God], full of grace and truth.”

John 3:36 says “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.”

Jesus is speaking in John 5:24: “I assure you, anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.”

God gave Jesus ALL authority to offer salvation and to pass judgment (John 5:26, 27). In John 8:23, 24, Jesus says: “You are from below, He told them, ‘I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Peter agreed: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people and we must be saved by it.” (Acts 4:12)

Jesus speaks very bluntly in John 8:42-47: “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me. Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. Yet because I tell the truth you do not believe Me. Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me? The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.”

Jesus also said He will rise after being crucified: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.” Luke 9:22

The Jesus of the Bible does not leave room for believing He is one of many Sons of God, that He is an enlightened human being, that He didn’t physically rise from the dead, that there is no judgment for rejecting Him as the Son of God. C.S. Lewis said it best:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. – Mere Christianity, pages 40-41.

The Bible warns us in many places to watch out for false teachers. Jude 1:3, 4 says: “Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.”

Jesus IS the only way, the truth, and life and whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Reject what man has done to the church and to you, but don’t reject the truth about Jesus. He came to earth because God loves us so much and doesn’t want us to perish.

“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [punishment for sins] for our sins.” I John 4:9, 10

Song sung by The King’s Singers (http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/The+Quiet+Heart/4113339).

Words: Albert E. Mingay  Music: Charles Skinner

Is it nothing to you that one day Jesus came
All our sorrow and suffering to share?
He came as the light of new hope for a world
In the day of its darkest despair.

Is it nothing to you that one day Jesus gave,
Gave in love of his measureless all?
So richly he poured out his limitless life
When he answered our pitiful call.

Is it nothing to you that one day Jesus died,
That men mocked him and, heedless, passed by?
No sorrow was e’re like the sorrow he bore
When they scorned him and left him to die.

Is it nothing to you that his cross speaks our shame?
Is it nothing to you, for whose cleansing he came,
That our guilt made his Calv’ry
And pierced his hands through?
It is nothing to you?
Is it nothing, nothing to you?

Is it nothing to you that today Jesus saves?
Though we stand all condemned before God
He carries our sin on his own loving heart,
And he saves by his pardoning blood.

Is it nothing to you that his cross speaks our shame?
Is it nothing to you, for whose cleansing he came,
That our guilt made his Calv’ry
And pierced his hands through?
It is nothing to you?
Is it nothing, nothing to you?

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